The Subtle Escape

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
My first short story I've written. It's a first person story of a struggle with depression, and the choice to make the escape from the ever-looming shadow of depression.

Submitted: July 22, 2014

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Submitted: July 22, 2014



The Subtle Escape


It's dark in here and I can't breath. But this place I'm in, is not actually a place. It's a state of being. For, the darkness follows me. I'm unable to escape it, because it is a part of me. It's who I am, what I am, and all I'm ever to be. This darkness that suppresses me, is an invention of my own design.

"Depression." The doctors said with a firm note of certainty. "These'll help clear you right up." They said with that fake tone of hope that all doctors must have. I hate doctors. I take the endless pills they prescribe, it makes no difference. It makes me feel empty in a different way, but at this point, I'm used to it. Used to the emptiness, the constant questions I'm bombarded with: "Are you okay?" "You look upset, what's on your mind?" "Want to talk about it?". Ha! The last one always gets me. What's to talk about? Sure, I can tell you what the doctors say. Sure, I can try and describe the darkness that follows me around, that keeps me from being happy. But will you understand? No. I know you try, and I appreciate the effort, but you can't possibly understand.

So I go about my day-to-day life. Wake up, shower, brush my teeth, Day after day. Sometimes I take the pills the doctors give me. But it always just results in a different kind of terrible for my day. My parents, bless their hearts, try to cheer me up. Sometimes I let them think it helps me. I'll pretend to be excited, slip on that mask that covers up the true inside. It means something to me to not have them worry. They always worry.

The only escape in my life is sleep. When I'm sleeping, I'm not thinking about anything, I'm not concerned with my life, I'm not battling the shadow. So I sleep a lot. With no job, and living with my parents still, it's not hard to get around 18 hours of sleep a day. However, the remaining 6 hours are hell. I wake up, and have a single blissful moment before I remember everything. Who I am, my life, where I am. Then the shadow returns. I like to think it sleeps too, and just wakes up a little bit slower than I do. But that doesn't mean it won't wake up. It always wakes up. It always wakes up...

Hooray! Today I got to see more doctors, and got prescribed more pills.

"It helps people just like you!" The doctors say with the false cheerfulness. Damn that cheerfulness. So I smile and nod. A polite thank you then a silent ride home with my parents. Those rides are always the worst, especially when they try to make small talk. They always look saddest when we're in the car. I don't blame them.

"Son, remember, the doctors said this medicine will make you sleepy, so take it before you go to bed, okay?" My mom reminded me for about the hundredth time. I nodded and took it to my room with me. It was going on the 5th hour I had been awake and today had been longer than usual so I decided to take my new "happiness drug" right then. It must've kicked in fast than I expected because I don't even remember laying down or taking off my shoes.

For the first time in the life I've lived, I remembered being happy. It was a novel experience, and almost frightening. It was borderline unpleasant. It lasted only seconds, and I savored those seconds for all they were worth. The happiness wasn't without reason. I had experienced one of the most realistic dreams, and yet unrealistic all the same for the pure ecstasy I felt during it. The sheer lack of the constant depression I had experienced for the last several years was bliss by itself, yet it went beyond that. I had only the vaguest memories of the dream, but I did recall glimpsing a fleeting figure, a pale feminine form, running away from me and disappearing into mist. I was determined to pursue this woman next time I dreamt.

Even though, due to my inconsistent yet very full sleep schedule, I only had to wait four hours before I went back to sleep. While unsure of whether or not I should take my meds, I threw caution to the wind, so to speak, and took them anyway. I had a goal in mind, and nothing was going to stop me from achieving it. I almost instantly fell asleep.

I was right in the place I was in my first dream. A very hazy landscape, with very undefined shapes. Everything was tones of gray, of varying shades. And nothing stayed the same, it seemed very flowly. One minute a tree would be standing straight up, and would be full of leaves, the next it would be very droopy with few leaves, having seemingly aged decades in the span of seconds. All of the these facts hardly concerned me though, as I was looking for the woman I had glimpsed before. I spotted her far off in the distance, and began walking towards her.

After what seemed to be several hours, I had made no discernable progress and got concerned. How would I get to the object of my attraction, if I couldn't move towards her. I pondered my predicament for a moment, then remembered this was a place of my mind's own creation. So I simply willed her to be closer, and now she appeared to be only a few feet off. All around me, everything was a much lighter shade of gray, even hinting at color. I began walking towards her, and the hint of color became more and more, eventually replacing the gray as I was within arms reach of her. Dim as they were, it was now definitely colors and not different shades of black and gray. I reached out and touched her, seeing her face for the first time. I was rendered breathless. She was absolutely perfect. No flaws whatsoever existed on her face. Having no second thoughts or control over my own actions, I kissed her straight on the lips. While I kissed her, colors exploded around us.

I pulled away from the kiss, ashamed of my sudden lack of control, and gazed at the changed landscape around us. It was absolutely beautiful, more so than anything I had ever seen or experienced in the waking world. Then I looked back at the girl I still held in my arms. To my surprise, she was smiling at me, the cutest expression possible on her face. I now took in everything about her. She was a little shorter than me, measuring in at about 5'6". She had flowing blond hair that went halfway down her back, and a very petite frame. I was in love instantly. She stared into my eyes with her bright blue eyes and uttered one sentence to me,

"I like you." Then I woke up.

The first word out of my mouth upon waking was not a pleasant one. It was followed by a string of equally unpleasant words until I returned to my usual unfeeling state; after the ride of endorphins from my dream was over. I got out of bed, wondering what the point was, then did my usual morning routine. It may have been pointless, but it was an unconscious action that let me not think, just do. But, as I knew they would, memories of my dream came flooding back. In perfect detail. The only downside, I didn't get the emotional rush I got while in my dream. I went about my day, doing things, yet not really doing them, and yet my mind would always flick back to my dream. I craved being back there, I needed  to go back. Yet, less than eight hours from having taken the medicine, caution won out and I decided it would be wisest to wait. This was one of many battles, and two hours later, desire beat out caution. I took my drugs, then drifted off to sleep.

This time, I was on a hillside. However, the landscape was now solid, and very real, filled with a multitude of shining colors. I looked to my left, and sitting there, looking perfectly content, was my dream girl. I realised we were holding hands, watching the sunset.

"You know you don't belong here right?" She asked into space, yet I knew it was addressed to me.

"What do you mean, 'I don't belong here'?" I asked. "Here is the only place that feels right, I'm happy here!"

"This isn't your world though, you have a true life to live." She smiled sadly. "And I can't keep you here."

"But.. But... But..." I stammered, "that's not fair! I'm happy here! I love it here, I love you. I know we haven't known each other for long, but I feel as though I truly love you."

She looked genuinely sad for a moment. "I know you do, and I feel the same way. But remember, that's only because we're in your head. I'm not real."

"You're real to me!" I said, knowing it was pointless to say. She didn't reply, instead she gripped my hand tighter, and we sat there together for quite a while, just watching nature. It all seemed so real.

"You have to go now." She informed me. "You can't stay any longer."

I went to argue, but found myself talking to the walls of my bedroom. I left out a muffled sob, not wanting to be here, not wanting to be in this world any longer. I went to my bottle of pills, my only source of happiness, and popped three of them in my mouth. I quickly returned to my world of dreams.

I looked around, and didn't see my dream girl anywhere in sight. I felt bad for having not listened to her, but I simply couldn't stand being away. I was now in a dense forest, very alive with sound and color. I saw her walking to me, in between the trees. She reached me, and I embraced her with a kiss. The kiss quickly became more, and before I realized what was happening, we were removing our clothes, kissing more passionately. We made love under the tree.

I dozed under the tree, and upon waking up still in a dream, I was rather confused for several moments. Reorienting myself, I saw my dream girl had disappeared again. With her scent and the feel of her naked body on me, I sat under the tree contentedly. I watched the wildlife go by, and reflected on how I never wanted to leave this place. Before I realized what was happening, I woke up again.

"God damn it!" I swore upon waking. It had felt like only minutes while sleeping, but I saw I had slept for 23 hours. I didn't want to be here, I didn't want to have to deal with this life. With as happy as I was there, why should I have to suffer every minute I was here. I wandered out to the living room, and saw both of my parents sitting there. They both wore very concerned faces.

"Son! Oh, thank goodness you're okay. We've been so worried. You've been sleeping a lot more than usual. We're gonna take you off those pills, they're draining the life from you."

I must had more expression on my face than they were used to, because they quickly became defensive.

"It's for your own good! You don't need those pills anyway!  We'll get through this okay, son?"

"No." I said. "No. No, I'm not going to stop taking them! YOU'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE THEM AWAY FROM ME!" I screamed at my parents, then sprinted to my room, with them running after. I quickly locked my door, and grabbed my pill bottle, now only half full, and held it in my hands while pressing my back to the door. My parents banged on it, demanding I open open. I had a quick choice to make. I couldn't let them take my only source of happiness in the world. A world I didn't want to be a part of. So, very deliberately, I twisted off the top on my bottle of wonders. I poured its contents into my hand, and shoved it in my mouth. I chased it with half of a glass of water I kept next to the bottle.

"Open up!" I barely heard my parents demand as the pills were already kicking in. I held the bottle and smiled as I drifted off into my final and permanent sleep.


© Copyright 2018 John Melvin. All rights reserved.

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